Protecting Yourself From Blue Light

 Pretty sure most of you scrolling through this read have heard of blue light that we are exposed to from our phones, tablets, computers or other screens. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, allow us to fill you in with real facts before your co-worker or aunty busts in with horror stories about how it can cause macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
What is blue light and how bad is it?
Blue light as the name suggests is a blue light wave of the visible light spectrum with a particular wavelength. Blue light is emitted by the sun, screens and other light sources as well. Blue light plays a vital role in the sleep-wake cycle of humans. Blue light emitted by the sun inhibits the secretion of the sleep hormone, melatonin, keeping us alert and active during the day. The lack of sunlight thereof leads to the release of melatonin thereby inducing sleep. Now this is mother nature’s intricate doings at its best. 

If sunlight contains blue light it surely can’t be detrimental to our health, right? Surely, this is a fair question. However, the issue is that the screens we use emit blue light, being exposed to blue light in the night-time messes with our body’s natural process of secreting melatonin, the sleep hormone. Increased screen usage close to bedtime reduces sleep quality. Most eye specialists claim that there is little to no evidence suggesting that blue light causes any irreversible physical damage to the human eye as touted by various opticians.
Are blue light filter glasses necessary?
Blue light filter glasses have been picking up the international market and have now made their way into the Sri Lankan market.
Blue light filter glasses are amber yellow tinted glasses that would be sure to turn a few heads your way if you were wearing them. These glasses are able to reduce the amount of blue light that we are exposed to via screens and thereby improve sleep quality. However, since people do not love the idea of walking around in yellow tinted glasses, newer version of blue light filters without the amber yellow tint have been introduced which are clear. Whether or not these new clear blue light glasses are as efficient as its primitive amber yellow counterpart is debatable. There is no scientific evidence comparing the two versions or even suggesting the efficiency of clear blue light filter glasses. These clear blue light glasses are now available at most local opticians and are in fact recommended for people who spend long periods of time with computers, phones or any other screen.
The blue light that we are exposed to from screens are 10-20 times less than what we are exposed to during the day via direct sunlight. However, if you are still worried there is a simple fix to reduce blue light that you are exposed to from screens. “Night mode”, “night shift”, “blue light filter” or “red shift” are inbuilt features available on Android, Apple, Windows and Linux devices nowadays that claim to cut down blue light.
If blue light from screens are not harmful why is screen time straining on the eye?
There is research that shows that usage of screen result in a less blinking, leading to dry eyes that are strained, tired and irritated. You can alleviate this using the 20-20-20 rule, where you stare into 20 feet distance for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes you use a screen.  
Protecting yourself from blue light doesn’t necessarily mean investing in clear blue light filter glasses that may or may not be effective, it simply boils down to merely avoiding screen usage close to bedtime.

This article was written by Amanda Fonseka. She is a BSc graduate in the field of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Biochemistry from the University of Mysore, and is currently following an MPhil at Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya.

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